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Nine films to watch in April 2014

  • Only Lovers Left Alive

    Jim Jarmusch’s take on the vampire genre was described by Variety as “a bit like a quirky, fitfully touching love letter from one aging punk to another” – starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as “world-weary hipster bloodsuckers” rekindling their centuries-long affair, its end credits thank the indie director’s longtime partner for “instigation and inspiration”. It’s no Twilight: yet while Jarmusch upends conventions, he avoids cynicism. According to Village Voice, it’s “the most gorgeous and heartfelt film of his 34-year career”. Released 11 April in the US, 17 April in Australia and 1 May in New Zealand

  • Joe

    Director David Gordon Green follows his 2013 film Prince Avalanche with another understated Texan drama. This one has a darker edge: starring Nicholas Cage as an alcoholic with a criminal past, it has more in common with the 2012 film Mud, in which co-star Tye Sheridan also appeared. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cage “gives one of his most nuanced performances in a long time”. The tale of an ex-con seeking atonement and a boy in search of a father figure features “simmering violence and dread [which] are sustained with impressive slow-burn conviction”. Released 9 April in the US, 17 April in Hungary and 30 April in France

  • Under the Skin

    It’s a busy month for Scarlett Johansson. When not appearing as a femme fatale in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (another pick for April), she’s playing an alien predator at large in Scotland. Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer’s low-budget sci-fi horror was described by The Guardian as “visually stunning and deeply disturbing: very freaky, very scary and very erotic”. Set in Glasgow, with Johansson picking up men in a van and showing real passersby filmed by hidden cameras, it makes reality appear “limb-pricklingly strange”. Released 4 April in Italy and the US, and 24 April in Russia

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Robert Redford’s appearance in the latest Marvel blockbuster is a clear way to target an older demographic as well as core fans – and it signals a new mood after the “apple pie Americana” of the original 2011 story. The sequel is a “superhero variation on the 1970′s-style political paranoia thriller”, referencing drone warfare and NSA spying in its modern take on an evergreen character. As comedian David Schneider tweeted: “Surely, given all the amazing stuff he's done, Captain America should at least be a colonel by now.” Released 3 April in the UAE, Australia, Greece and Thailand, 4 April in Canada, India, Mexico and the US, and 10 April in Brazil

  • Bicycling with Molière

    A warm chamber piece about two actors preparing for a production of Molière’s The Misanthrope, this French comedy drama brings the 17th-Century playwright’s words into the present. Writer-director Philippe Le Guay (The Cost of Living) pairs regular star Fabrice Luchini with Lambert Wilson and follows their personal and artistic squabbles as they embark on a week-long rehearsal session. The pair escape on bike trips around Ile de Ré, but the read-throughs provide the strongest sequences, says the Hollywood Reporter. Released 3 April in Germany and 15 April in the US

  • Transcendence

    The directorial debut from longtime Christopher Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister, who won an Oscar for Inception, Transcendence follows a terminally ill scientist (Johnny Depp) as he downloads his mind onto a computer in an attempt to achieve immortality. Co-starring Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Rebecca Hall, it’s an eerie thriller about AI that is a world away from the hipster love story of Her. Released 17 April in the Netherlands, Singapore and the US, 18 April in Finland, and 24 April in Germany and Hungary

  • Blue Ruin

    This is a tense revenge thriller that follows everyman Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) as he attempts to exact payback for his parents’ deaths, but proves himself an ineffective assassin. Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier suffuses the violence and dark comedy with melancholy: the movie, says Collider is [“a restrained whisper, the kind someone makes when they’re really mad, and it’s so much more terrifying than if they were just wild and yelling”.. According to Variety: “Blair’s engaging, soulful-eyed performance succeeds by locating the sweet spot between idiot and amateur, predator and prey.” Released 25 April in the US, 30 April in Belgium and 22 May in the Netherlands

  • Watermark

    Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky was the subject of Jennifer Baichwal’s 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes: now he teams up with her, behind the camera, for an essay film about ‘the world’s most precious resource’. Following Burtynsky as he takes photos for his recently published book, Water, it features his lush, large format images of giant dams in China, step wells in Rajasthan, plains in Texas and dried-up riverbeds in Mexico. Released 4 April in the US and 15 May in Germany

  • Tracks

    Director John Curran brings a true story about one woman’s nine-month trek through the Australian outback to the screen with this adventure film. Mia Wasikowska (Stoker, The Double) stars in the adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s international bestseller, which details the 27-year-old’s 1,700-mile (2,700-km) journey across the desert. Along the way, she meets characters including a National Geographic photographer, played by Adam Driver from the HBO series Girls – although The Telegraph argues that “the star of Tracks is the Australian outback itself”. Released 3 April in New Zealand, 10 April in Germany and 24 April in Italy

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